The Role of the Built Environment in the Recovery of Cities and Communities from Extreme Events

August 2012 (VOL. 30, NO. 2)

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This article contributes to the development of a theory of recovery of a city from a disaster generated by an extreme event. It focuses on the functions performed by the built environment in an urban system and the recovery of that system. The city is viewed as a complex, self-organizing system. A disaster results when the parts of the system are damaged to an extent that they are unable to perform their respective functions effectively and the relationships among those parts are disrupted. Recovery occurs as the parts of the system regain their functions and as critical relationships among the parts are restored based on the new conditions created by the extreme event. Rebuilding or restoring the built environment is necessary but only rarely sufficient for system recovery. Recovery processes are perhaps best depicted in terms of agent-based models.